Help your students unravel this incredibly complex (but immensely rewarding!) psychological novel with the help of "flipped instruction" podcasts -- or binge listen to the podcasts for yourself and teach Faulkner like a pro! Tested in high school classes ranging from general education / co-taught special ed all the way through honors level classes and lessons designed for AP students.
I love Faulker. LOVE him. Like, studied him through graduate school and desperately fought to bring him into my school's curriculum from the moment I landed my first teaching job all those years ago kind of love him.
Faulkner is SUPER tricky. Multiple narrators (almost every one of whom is completely unreliable) and shifting perspectives (15 different points of view over the course of 59 chapters) makes for one heck of a task for teaching. And if a student misses so much as one day of class time along the way? Well, the immediate inclination for them is to race right on over to the Cliffs' Notes (or Shmoop, or Wikipedia, or...) in order to "cut corners" and get a quick plot summary rather than putting forth the honest effort to read the novel itself. And once they go down that rabbit hole, you can pretty much kiss your unit goodbye.
(And no. Printed worksheets with reflection questions don't solve the problem -- as students will just as soon copy their answers from one another and fake their way through a surface-level discussion the following class meeting).
To beat the corner-cutting to the punch, I went ahead and recorded nightly podcasts (typically between 10-15 minutes in length) for each night's assigned sections of the novel. Part reading guide, and part "hype" trailer with specific look-for items and points of interest (like Siri or a GPS telling you about all the cool stuff you can see at specific stops along a lengthy road trip), these modular chunked podcasts are a perfect way to build confidence and agency in students.
Here's the first installment to give you a feel for what you can expect from these podcasts
Not so sure that you feel comfortable playing a random stranger's voice to your kids? No problem. These podcasts double as a PHENOMENAL instructional planning tool for teachers new to Faulkner's novel. From personal experience, I can't tell you how awesome a resource it has been to be able to revisit specific notes on a chapter year after year (in the car, in the gym, etc.) to make sure I haven’t missed anything as I prepare to re-teach sections of the text without giving away more information than I intend to. Not to mention all those cool little "Easter Eggs" that are sprinkled throughout the novel (like which tools correspond to which characters in the river chapters, the number of times each narrator has spoken in each chapter, and all of the rich literary references that Faulker has thrown in to other works for good measure throughout). PERFECT for guiding students on where to look, and so much easier than poring over pages upon pages of handwritten notebook scribblings and notes in the margins.
THIS DIGITAL DOWNLOAD INCLUDES:
The end result is a full 3 ½ + hours of original podcast materials (spoiler free!) that are designed to serve as “flipped” reading guides or teacher planning materials that can help talk students through what they will be reading or help you plan your instruction before reading each of the assigned chapters. Collegial, engaging, and always presented in student-friendly language, each podcast effectively serves as a miniature “trailer” to help heighten the mystery and suspense of the novel while drawing students’ attention to specific “look-for” items and clues prior to their setting out to read the assigned chapters.
Teachers might even consider using these audio files as supplemental homework assignments for your classes, or recording similar podcasts of your own to help walk students through the trouble spots they will likely be encountering during their read. Not only is this a fun break from the usual worksheet approach, the interactive nature of the voice recording really piques kids' interests and encourages them to put in authentic work on a novel that might well be too hard for them without some creative instructional support.
Trust me: the payoff is absolutely worth the effort.
Teachers wishing to use these recordings as a jumping off point could even synthesize ideas of your own and make their own podcasts to share with your students in a similar fashion. These files are easy to create by hitting the “record” button using any native voice memo app on an iOS, Google, or Android device. Once an .mp3 file has been saved to your phone, it can be shared with students on the Google Drive (using the app) or Google Classroom, or sent to students via bulk email (though larger files may take longer to transmit).
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